previous next


IT remains for me to describe the island Cyprus, which adjoins this peninsula on the south. I have already said, that the sea comprised between Egypt, Phœnice, Syria, and the remainder of the coast as far as that opposite to Rhodes, con- sists, so to say, of the Egyptian and Pamphylian seas and the sea along the Bay of Issus.

In this sea lies the island Cyprus, having its northern side approaching to Cilicia Tracheia, and here also it approaches nearest to the continent; on the east it is washed by the Bay of Issus, on the west by the Pamphylian sea, and on the south by that of Egypt. The latter sea is confluent on the west with the Libyan and Carpathian seas. On its southern and eastern parts is Egypt, and the succeeding tract of coast as far as Seleucia and Issus. On the north is Cyprus, and the Pamphylian sea.

The Pamphylian sea is bounded on the north by the extremities of Cilicia Tracheia, of Pamphylia, and of Lycia as far as the territory opposite to Rhodes; on the west, by the island of Rhodes; on the east, by the part of Cyprus near Paphos, and the Acamas; on the south, it unites with the Egyptian sea. [2]

The circumference of Cyprus is 3420 stadia, including the winding of the bays. Its length from Cleides1 to the Acamas,2 to a traveller on land proceeding from east to west, is 1400 stadia.

The Cleides are two small islands lying in front of Cyprus on the eastern side, at the distance of 700 stadia from the Pyramus.3

The Acamas is a promontory with two paps, and upon it is a large forest. It is situated at the western part of the island, but extends towards the north, approaching very near Selinus in Cilicia Tracheia, for the passage across is only 1000 stadia; to Side in Pamphylia the passage is 1600 stadia, and to the Chelidoniæ (islands) 1900 stadia.

The figure of the whole island is oblong, and in some places on the sides, which define its breadth, there are isthmuses.

We shall describe the several parts of the island briefly, beginning from the point nearest to the continent. [3]

We have said before, that opposite to Anemyrium, a promontory of Cilicia Tracheia, is the extremity of Cyprus, namely, the promontory of Crommyon,4 at the distance of 350 stadia.

From the cape, keeping the island on the right hand, and the continent on the left, the voyage to the Cleides in a straight line towards north and east is a distance of 700 stadia.

In the interval is the city Lapathus,5 with a harbour and dockyards; it was founded by Laconians and Praxander. Opposite to it was Nagidus. Then follows Aphrodisium;6 here the island is narrow, for over the mountains to Salamis7 are 70 stadia. Next is the sea-beach of the Achæans; here Teucer, the founder of Salamis in Cyprus, being it is said banished by his father Telamon, first disembarked. Then follows the city Carpasia,8 with a harbour. It is situated opposite to the promontory Sarpedon.9 From Carpasia there is a transit across the isthmus of 30 stadia to the Carpasian islands and the southern sea; next are a promontory and a mountain. The name of the promontory is Olympus, and upon it is a temple of Venus Acræa, not to be approached nor seen by women.

Near and in front lie the Cleides, and many other islands; next are the Carpasian islands, and after these Salamis, the birth-place of Aristus the historian; then Arsinoë, a city with a harbour; next Leucolla, another harbour; then the promontory Pedalium, above which is a hill, rugged, lofty, and table-shaped, sacred to Venus; to this hill from Cleides are 680 stadia. Then to Citium10 the navigation along the coast is for the greater part difficult and among bays. Citium has a close harbour. It is the birth-place of Zeno, the chief of the Stoic sect, and of Apollonius the physician. Thence to Berytus are 1500 stadia. Next is the city Amathus,11 and between Citium and Berytus, a small city called Palæa, and a pap-shaped mountain, Olympus; then follows Curias,12 a promontory of a peninsular form, to which from Throni13 are 700 stadia; then the city Curium,14 with a harbour, founded by Argives.

Here we may observe the negligence of the author, whether Hedylus, or whoever he was, of the elegiac lines which begin, “‘We hinds, sacred to Phœbus, hither came in our swift course; we traversed the broad sea, to avoid the arrows of our pursuers.’” He says, that the hinds ran down from the Corycian heights, and swam across from the Cilician coast to the beach near Curias, and adds, “‘That it was a cause of vast surprise to men to think how we scoured the trackless waves, aided by the vernal Zephyrs.’” For it is possible (by doubling the cape) to sail round from Corycus to the beach of Curias, but not with the assistance of the west wind, nor by keeping the island on the right, but on' the left hand; and there is no (direct) passage across.

At Curium is the commencement of the voyage towards the west in the direction of Rhodes; then immediately follows a promontory, whence those who touch with their hands the altar of Apollo are precipitated. Next are Treta,15 Boosura,16 and Palepaphus, situated about 10 stadia from the sea, with a harbour and an ancient temple of the Paphian Venus; then follows Zephyria,17 a promontory with an anchorage, and another Arsinoë, which also has an anchorage, a temple, and a grove. At a little distance from the sea is Hierocepis.18 Next is Paphos, founded by Agapenor, with a harbour and temples, which are fine buildings. It is distant from Palæpaphus 60 stadia by land. Along this road the annual sacred processions are conducted, when a great concourse both of men and women resort thither from other cities. Some writers say, that from Paphos to Alexandreia are 3600 stadia. Next after Paphos is the Acamas; then after the Acamas the voyage is easterly to Arsinoë a city, and to the grove of Jupiter; then Soli19 a city, where there is a harbour, a river, and a temple of Venus and Isis. It was founded by Phalerus and Acamas, who were Athenians. The inhabitants are called Solii. Stasanor, one of the companions of Alexander, was a native of Soli, and was honoured with a chief command. Above Soli in the interior is Limenia a city, then follows the promontory of Crommyon. [4]

But why should we be surprised at poets, and those particularly who study modes of expression only, when we compare them with Damastes? The latter gives the length of the island from north to south, from Hierocepia, as he says, to Cleides.

Nor does even Eratosthenes give it exactly. For, when he censures Damastes, he says that Hierocepia is not on the north, but on the south. Yet neither is it on the south, but on the west, since it lies on the western side, where are situated Paphos and Acamas.

Such then is the position of Cyprus. [5]

It is not inferior in fertility to any one of the islands, for it produces good wine and oil, and sufficient corn to supply the wants of the inhabitants. At Tamassus there are abundant mines of copper, in which the calcanthus is found, and rust of copper, useful for its medicinal properties.

Eratosthenes says, that anciently the plains abounded with timber, and were covered with forests, which prevented cultivation; the mines were of some service towards clearing the surface, for trees were cut down to smelt the copper and silver. Besides this, timber was required for the construction of fleets, as the sea was now navigated with security and by a large naval force; but when even these means were insufficient to check the growth of timber in the forests, permission was given to such as were able and inclined, to cut down the trees and to hold the land thus cleared as their own property, free from all payments. [6]

Formerly the Cyprian cities were governed by tyrants, but from the time that the Ptolemaic kings were masters of Egypt, Cyprus also came into their power, the Romans frequently affording them assistance. But when the last Ptolemy that was king, brother of the father of Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt in our time, had conducted himself in a disorderly manner, and was ungrateful to his benefactors, he was deposed, and the Romans took possession of the island, which became a Prætorian province by itself.

The chief author of the deposition of the king was Pub. Claudius Pulcher, who having fallen into the hands of the Cilician pirates, at that time at the height of their power, and a ransom being demanded of him, despatched a message to the king, entreating him to send it for his release. The king sent a ransom, but of so small an amount, that the pirates disdained to accept it, and returned it, but they dismissed Pulcher without any payment. After his escape, he remembered what he owed to both parties; and when he became tribune of the people, he had sufficient influence to have Mar- cus Cato sent to deprive the king of the possession of Cyprus. The latter put himself to death before the arrival of Cato, who, coming soon afterwards, took possession of Cyprus, sold the king's property, and conveyed the money to the public treasury of the Romans.

From this time the island became, as it is at present, a Prætorian province. During a short intervening period Antony had given it to Cleopatra and her sister Arsinoë, but upon his death all his arrangements were annulled.

1 The Clides, off Cape Andrea.

2 Cape Arnauti.

3 Dschehan-Tschai.

4 Kormakiti.

5 Lapito.

6 Near Artemisi.

7 To the north of Tamagousta.

8 Carpas.

9 Lissan el Cape, in Cilicia.

10 Near the present Larnaka.

11 Limasol.

12 Cape Gata

13 Cape Greg

14 Piscopia.

15 Capo Bianco.

16 Bisur.

17 Point Zephyro.

18 Jeroskipo.

19 Solea.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus English (1924)
load focus Greek (1877)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1900 AD (1)
1600 AD (1)
1500 AD (1)
1400 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: